"The Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted rules Wednesday allowing judges to hear
cases involving their biggest campaign contributors, siding with business interests and rejecting calls for changes.
Voting 4-3, the court approved rules saying donations by groups and individuals to judges and independent spending to help them get elected do not by themselves require judges to step aside from cases.
The additions to the judicial code of conduct were proposed by two powerful Wisconsin business groups, the Wisconsin Realtors Association and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and adopted without a single change."
No one who was in the chamber yesterday could have been surprised by the outcome, as the majority of justices wore their preconceived notions on their sleeves.
I certainly expected a good grilling about the Democracy Campaign's view that there should mandatory disqualification of judges in cases involving their biggest campaign supporters. But after watching the League of Women Voters and two national fair courts advocates endure something right out of Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692, I suppose I should be grateful that I got questions like these. . . .
Quoting Justice David Prosser:
"Haven't you called me a thief?"
"It seems to me that there probably is some concern about the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and a lot of it is tied directly to you."
"Did you kind of suggest humorously that people might consider poisoning Justice Ziegler?"
OK, that's two questions and a declaration that the messenger should be shot, but not before I am assigned far more influence than I actually have.
On the last question, if Justice Prosser had been willing to read the offending passage in its entirety, it would have been clear that I did not suggest, jokingly or otherwise, that Justice Ziegler be poisoned. I was commenting on a remark made by state Appeals Court Judge Ralph Adam Fine.
As for the thief question, here is the item Prosser evidently was referring to. And here is more on the subject. If Prosser had allowed an airing of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God, and not just the fragment of truth that reinforces his already-made-up mind, this would have been known to all in the room: First, it was Scott Jensen's lawyers who filed a brief asserting that Justice Prosser agreed to testify that when he was Assembly speaker he had engaged in the same conduct that yielded felony charges against top legislative leaders including Jensen. Second, it was the state's attorneys who called the conduct "theft from the public" (go here and see page six) and a trial judge who called it "secretive but highly organized theft" as well as "common thievery elevated to a higher plane."
For the record, I stand by everything I have written concerning Justice Prosser and I rest easy in the knowledge that anyone who reads what I've written will judge for themselves whether I have shown the "reckless disregard for the truth" that Prosser claims I have exhibited.